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Beating The Odds: Finding Oneself Through Overcoming Obstacles In Yann Martel’s Life Of Pi And Ian Mc Ewan’s The Cement Garden

1959 words - 8 pages

Helen Keller had many obstacles that challenge an individual’s mental and physical strengths. She was a woman both blind and deaf, but put aside her challenges that test her perseverance, leading to an ambitious life worth living for. Though these obstacles of being both blind and death would stop most from doing much in their life, it did not stop Helen, which allowed her to become a successful author and educator (“Helen Keller.”) The novels The Cement Garden by Ian McEwan and Life of Pi by Yann Martel both display the challenges in which the main characters’ resilience and determination to surpass their difficulties are tested. In The Cement Garden, Jack, the narrator of the book, explains how he and his three siblings are pushed to hide their beloved mother who is deceased underneath cement at their home. Hiding their mother must be done to prevent the town from knowing their parents are dead, otherwise they will be taken to the orphanage. In Life of Pi, Pi Patel, a sixteen year-old struggles to stay alive on a boat with Richard Parker, a 450 lb Bengali tiger, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean after losing his entire family to the angry sea. Through the exploration of these novels, the theme of losing innocence to overcome their obstacles is viewed. They remain similar in the sense that characters are forced to perform unthinkable acts when not being restricted by the rules of society. However, they differ in the methods these characters form relationships with the people around them to continue their existence for survival. The two novels also differ in the way the characters cope with their fears during these life changing situations.
The characters in the two novels have their innocence tested which was eventually lost as the result of the many obstacles and the solutions the characters had to bring to surpass those hurdles. To start off with, when Pi has no way to obtain food other than the meat of an animal, Pi is forced to let go of religious ways in order to be able to survive. When attempting to kill the fish, Pi thought to himself, “I egged myself on until I heard a cracking sound and I no longer felt any life fighting in my hands...The fish was dead” (Martel 203). Pi, being a passive boy who is both religious and vegetarian believes that killing any form of life is a sin. Unfortunately, he ended up having to kill an animal himself to survive his hunger, depriving him of his innocence. He realizes that beliefs, such as being vegetarian, and his preaching cannot be taken at face value and that these social norms are a result of civilization. He further realizes that his existence and survival is more important than the religions he was practising. Similarly, Jack and the children of The Cement Garden undergo a conflict in which they must lose their innocence to let go of the death of their mother. When Sue asks Julie where they should hide the body of their mother, Julie replies, “‘In the garden, under the rockery’” (McEwan 60)....

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